Two decades ago and earlier, many Georgia business and civic organizations were fond of holding their annual meetings and conventions at Georgia’s state run Jekyll Island near Brunswick. But that all changed as the state — which bought the island in 1947 — allowed the convention facilities to deteriorate. Convention business left Jekyll.
Now, after six years of planning and 18 months of construction, Jekyll’s new beachfront convention center — the centerpiece of a gigantic makeover aimed at winning back tourists and business groups — has been unveiled. The 128,000-square-foot convention center opened, with Gov. Nathan Deal cutting the ribbon. The state spent $50 million on the new meeting place, on a beachside park and rerouted roads.
The new look and new roundabout in the area of the convention center offers a modern feel when you get on the main Beachview Drive where the old convention center and shops once stood. The old convention center was torn down to make way for the new center, and the shops and stale shopping area are also gone. The shops were moved temporarily to portable buildings a mile or more north of the new convention center.
During a quick visit to the island recently, we were impressed with the road improvements and the new convention facility. It’s a huge step forward in luring back convention business.
Other new shopping and lodging facilities are planned, including a new motel on the beach north of the convention center planned by the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, the historic facility in the historic district on the island.
Jekyll Island once again has much to offer to convention-goers. In addition to the new convention center, there’s the lure of the beach and four golf courses. Other amenities need to be added to make this a quality convention destination. Primarily needed are more modern lodging facilities and more restaurants. Eating opportunities still are extremely limited on Jekyll.
We’re glad to see Jekyll Island on the mend.
The state was wise to finally modernize this coastal property.
Convention business should pick up again with this new look and other sorely needed private investments.
May 23, The Times-Herald, Newnan